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Law enforcement must protect both public safety and the rights of individuals. This is why arrests and use of force should be last resorts, not first options, for police. The ACLU-WA advocates for stronger laws regulating police use of force, alternatives to arrest and incarceration, and de-escalation practices and training. And to ensure law enforcement is accountable to the people they serve, the ACLU-WA works for greater community oversight, such as independent civilian review boards with disciplinary authority.
Change state law on prosecuting police for killings
Victory:  Spokane Police will no longer unlawfully detain immigrants
Demand justice: There must be a just response to the killing of Charleena Lyles
Know your rights:  Download our guide on what to do if you're stopped by the police


Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Last week saw the release of two annual federal government reports which highlight the pervasiveness of Marijuana in the U.S. Unfortunately, only one of these reports received attention from U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. Read more
Monday, September 13, 2010
Prescription opiate abuse (powerful pain killers) is a serious problem requiring smart policy solutions. Two policies intended to curb abuse of these powerful drugs highlight the right and wrong approach for dealing with the issue. Read more
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In the wake of the tragic shooting of a Native American wood carver, the ACLU-WA told Seattle leaders they must provide leadership in preventing overreactions by police. Among other changes, officers must be trained to understand that “appearing different” doesn’t make someone a threat to public safety.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Do you think Arizona, with its “papers please” law, is the only state where law enforcement officials are approaching travelers and asking about their citizenship? Think again. Federal immigration officials are asserting the authority to ask individuals about their citizenship far away from any border crossing or port. And they regularly question people as far as 100 miles away from any border. Nine of the most populous U.S. cities and two-thirds of our nation’s population reside within this “Constitution-free zone.” Read more
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Gangs present a serious public safety challenge to our communities.  But the approach that our state has instinctively turned to in the past—relying on arresting and jailing those believed to be involved in gangs—fails to get to the root causes of the issue, and likely makes it worse.  To be sure, for Washington cities dealing with violent crime, such as those in the Yakima Valley, meeting this challenge means appropriately punishing violent offenders.  But it is equally critical to find avenues through which individuals can leave gangs and reenter the community.  Simply imprisoning gang members and telling them to leave gangs doesn’t work if there’s nothing else for them to do, and no resources to help them get out. Read more
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A feature story in the Washington Post this week highlighted what has become a nationwide problem since 9/11: police and security officers interfering with the rights of people to take photographs. As the Post put it, “Almost nine years after the terrorist attacks, which ratcheted up security at government properties and transportation hubs, anyone photographing federal buildings, bridges, trains or airports runs the risk of being seen as a potential terrorist.” Read more
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
People rarely think about police accountability until their city is faced with a disturbing and well-publicized incident of police misconduct.  In Spokane that incident was the 2006 death of a mentally disabled man during an arrest.  Community outrage came immediately, but it took two years of public debate and discussion for the City Council and Mayor to enact an ordinance creating the Office of Police Ombudsman.  A little over a year ago, the City of Spokane took the next major step toward advancing police accountability by hiring its first Police Ombudsman.     Read more
Monday, July 19, 2010
I've recently returned from vacation in San Diego, a beautiful city from which you can see Tijuana, or "TJ," as the locals call it. My family and I had a fabulous time relaxing, reuniting with loved ones, and stuffing our gullets with the wonders of Juanita's Taco Shop. But my husband broke my cardinal vacation rule - no talk about work, please - and brought up California's Proposition 19. That forced my hand: If you're going to talk about cannabis reform, you have to talk about Mexico.
Friday, July 16, 2010
In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right to remain silent during the now-famous court case Miranda v. Arizona.  But last month the Court redefined the process of invoking one’s Miranda rights. In Berghuis v. Thompkins the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 split, that one must declare that she or he is invoking her or his right not to speak to police either before or during a police interrogation. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor said the majority had created a kind of paradox: “A suspect who wishes to guard his right to remain silent,” she wrote, “must, counter intuitively, speak.”
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Recently obtained documents show that the University of Washington Police Department authorized an officer to spy on, collect information about, and participate in meetings of the UW Student Worker Coalition, without any suspicion of criminal activity. The ACLU of Washington is working with the SWC to uncover the extent of surveillance, and to encourage the University to take the steps necessary to prevent suspicionless surveillance in the future.   Read more